Now Aberdeenshire-based business Whisky Hammer has set a new world auction record after selling a cask of single malt whisky for $1,295,500 [£1.019m].
This 374-litre refill butt had been lingering in The Macallan’s warehouse since it was filled back in 1988, after which a buyer bought the cask then forgot about it for more than 30 years.
When reminded of its existence by the distillery, the owner put the cask, which had originally been bought for the comparative snip of $6,500 [£5,115], up for sale on Whisky Hammer, which is situated in Ellon and owned by brothers Craig and Daniel Milne.
Alongside 2,000 other lots, their auction closed onSunday evening after a fierce bidding war from a legion of international whisky enthusiasts.
The sale easily surpassed the previous record, which was set in 2021 by auctioneers Bonham’s for another whisky cask from The Macallan – a 30-year-old re-racked Sherry Hogshead cask, which fetched $572,000 [£450,158] at auction.
These casks are sold entirely on the rarity and quality of the single malt within, rather than the labels and decanters that might make an individual bottle more collectable and desirable.
Daniel Milne, co-founder and managing director of the auction site, said: “Whisky Hammer runs an online auction once a month where we typically sell between one to three casks varying quite significantly in value depending on distillery reputation, age and size of the cask.
“Those purchasing casks are generally doing so as a ‘passion investment’. There aren’t many investments where you can enjoy tasting whisky along the way, to experience how the flavours have developed over time”.
If bottled today, the Whisky Hammer’s Macallan cask would yield 534 x 70cl bottles. Thus, the price paid on a ‘per bottle’ basis would be $2,426 [£1,909].
Although the seller of this forgotten cask has chosen to remain anonymous, Whisky Hammer has revealed he is an expat who bought the item as a spur-of-the-moment purchase and travelled widely until The Macallan managed to track him down.
The new owner of the cask is another private individual and is based in the US. Until shipped, their prize remains in bond at the Craigellachie distillery.
Mr Milne said: “When this cask was listed in our auction, we knew it had the potential to make history. To come across a cask of this age, quality and size is extraordinary in itself, enhanced by the fact that the liquid was distilled at The Macallan, which is reflected in the global attention the cask has attracted.
“It’s been incredibly exciting for everyone at Whisky Hammer to have represented what has become the most expensive cask ever to be sold at auction.”
The unofficial tasting notes on the Whisky Hammer website include a medium to full mouthfeel, a nose of “salted caramel drizzled chocolate brownie”, as well as “soft buttery dates and freshly baked apricot Danish pastries” on the palate, and a finish of honeycomb, sweet orchard fruits and dry oak. As they say “this is a master class in sophistication”.